Disciplinary Actions: March 29-June 30, 2022

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission brings charges against attorneys who have violated the state’s rules for admission to the bar and Rules of Professional Conduct. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications brings charges against judges, judicial officers, or judicial candidates for misconduct. Details of attorneys’ and judges’ actions for which they are being disciplined by the Supreme Court will be included unless they are not a matter of public record under the court’s rules.

Disbarment

Former Evansville attorney Jared M. Thomas was disbarred on April 21. Thomas, who had been under an order of interim suspension, violated Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(a), 8.4(b), 8.4(c) and 8.4(d) through a check kiting scheme in which he wrote several checks from his trust account to his own operating account and vice versa. Thomas also took $6,000 owed to a client when his trust account became overdrawn, and the Disciplinary Commission is investigating him for other acts including falsifying a document and forging a judge’s signature.

Reciprocal discipline

Indianapolis attorney Ashley K. Eve was indefinitely suspended pursuant to a reciprocal discipline order, effective May 5. On Feb. 4, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana suspended Eve from practice in that court indefinitely after she was convicted in Hamilton Superior Court of Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. The Indiana Supreme Court found no showing, pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 23(20)(e), of any reason why reciprocal discipline should not be imposed
in Indiana.

Seymour attorney Jason M. Smith was suspended for 120 days pursuant to a reciprocal discipline order, effective June 9. On March 31, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found Smith committed misconduct by performing incompetently and advancing frivolous arguments in two appeals, resulting in a two-year suspension from the bar of that court. The Indiana Supreme Court found “substantially different” discipline was warranted in Indiana. Smith will be automatically reinstated at the conclusion of the period of suspension, provided no other suspensions are in effect.

Probation

Fort Wayne attorney Ryan E. Lackey was placed on probation effective May 5. Lackey violated Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) when he pleaded guilty to Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a BAC of .15% or greater, with a prior misdemeanor OWI conviction. He was suspended from the practice of law for 90 days, all stayed subject to completion of at least two years of probation with monitoring by the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

Public reprimand

Crown Point attorney Andreas T. Kyres was publicly reprimanded on March 31. While representing a party in a protective order case, Kyres alleged in court that he had evidence showing the opposing counsel had a sexual relationship with an involved police sergeant, then later claimed to have a “source” for the allegation. He violated Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 4.4(a), which prohibits using means in representing a client that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person.

Suspension

Merrillville attorney Rebecca L. Balanoff was suspended effective May 5 for noncooperation with the investigation of a grievance filed against her. Balanoff was ordered on Dec. 14, 2021, to show cause as to why she should not be suspended, but she has not responded to the disciplinary action.

Indianapolis attorney Aftin R. Brown was suspended effective June 29 for noncooperation with the investigation of a grievance filed against her. Brown was ordered on April 12 to show cause as to why she should not be suspended. Brown filed an unverified response asking for more time in which to respond to the Disciplinary Commission’s demand letter, but on May 24 the commission reported that Brown still had not cooperated, and Brown has not responded.

Haubstadt attorney Daniel J. Hancock was suspended effective May 5 for noncooperation with the investigation of a grievance filed against him. On Jan. 24, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an order taking under advisement the Disciplinary Commission’s petition to show cause against Hancock, who has not responded to the disciplinary action.

Crown Point attorney Steven A. Johnson was suspended for 30 days beginning June 20 for violations of Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(a)(4) and 1.4(b). Johnson and his son were law partners, and in multiple cases Johnson delegated authority over cases to his son, who “wholly neglected” them. Johnson will be automatically reinstated at the conclusion of the period of suspension, provided no other suspensions are in effect.

Indianapolis attorney John S. Keeler was placed under an interim order of suspension on June 9. Keeler pleaded guilty in April to causing the filing of a false tax return, and the Disciplinary Commission requested that he be suspended from the practice of law in Indiana pending further order of the Supreme Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action.

Indianapolis attorney J. David Massey was indefinitely suspended effective March 31. Massey was suspended Nov. 16, 2021, for noncooperation with the investigation of a grievance filed against him, and that suspension was converted to an indefinite suspension after more than 90 days passed.

Indianapolis attorney Marco A. Genesis Moreno was suspended effective June 29 for noncooperation with the investigation into a grievance filed against him. Moreno was ordered on May 17 to show cause as to why he should not be suspended, but he has not responded to the disciplinary action.

Evansville attorney Kurt A. Schnepper was suspended effective May 5 for noncooperation with the investigation of two grievances filed against him. Schnepper was ordered on Feb. 21 to show cause as to why he should not be suspended, to which he filed identical unverified responses acknowledging his noncooperation and claiming that he would cooperate going forward. The Disciplinary Commission then filed a Request for Ruling to Tax Costs in each case asserting Schnepper still had not cooperated, to which Schnepper has not responded.

Indianapolis attorney Frankert K. Wheaton was indefinitely suspended effective June 29. Wheaton was suspended Feb. 3 for noncooperation with the investigation of a grievance filed against him, and that suspension was converted to an indefinite suspension after more than 90 days passed.

Fort Wayne attorney Cody R. Williams was suspended for at least one year without automatic reinstatement, effective April 21. Williams pleaded guilty in October 2019 to possession of a legend drug, a Level 6 felony entered as a Class A misdemeanor, driving while suspended with a prior judgment, a Class A misdemeanor, and operating without financial responsibility, an infraction. The parties agreed that he violated Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b).•

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